Andrew Strauss's first decision as England captain, when he and his Indian counterpart chose not to play on a waterlogged outfield in Guwahati, resulted in a riot. Yesterday, after leading his side to a five-wicket victory over India in the sixth one-dayer, he retired to his hotel room a tired but far more contented man.
The win came at a cost for Strauss, who was forced to retire with cramp in the searing heat of the Keenan Stadium and spend 15 minutes on an intravenous drip. Strauss was not the only England player to suffer in temperatures exceeding 45C. Matthew Prior, the England wicketkeeper was physically sick at the side of the pitch after taking in too much fluid and he too spent part of the afternoon on a drip. Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett also had to seek refuge in the England dressing-room after cramp caused them to briefly leave the field walking like Herr Flick in 'Allo, 'Allo.
Strauss and England will take a great deal of satisfaction from the victory, even though they have already lost the seven-match series. The England captain won the man of the match award for his splendid unbeaten 74, but it was his fast bowlers who set up the win by bowling aggressively on a hard, bouncy pitch and dismissing India for 223.
England wobbled briefly, losing three wickets for 11 when they were within 30 runs of their target, but the way in which the winning runs were struck - Ian Blackwell hit Ramesh Powar back over his head for six - emphasised the visitors' superiority on the day.
England were helped by apathetic opponents who gave the impression that they would rather be somewhere else. Jamshedpur is known as the steel city of India but there was little substance about the home side's performance. Without the batting of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Powar, the defeat would have been even more conclusive.
The pair came together after James Anderson, Mahmood and Plunkett had reduced India to 79 for 5, and scored almost 75 per cent of the team's total. Dhoni, playing in front of his home crowd, was magnificent. After watching five of his colleagues perish, he showed versatility and responsibility in guiding his team to a respectable score. His 96 came off just 106 balls and it was only fatigue that deprived him of a third one-day hundred.
Anderson, with 3 for 28, was the pick of England's bowlers. He dismissed Virender Sehwag, India's stand-in captain, with the fifth ball of the day and claimed a wicket in each of his spells. Plunkett took two important wickets before cramp set in and Mahmood gave a glimpse of his huge potential with 3 for 37.
With the field at times looking like a hospital A&E ward on a Saturday night, some observers began to question whether cricket should be played in such extreme conditions. It is a noble and thoughtful consideration, and doubtless the players' union representative will have something to say on the matter, but it would be an impossible rule to police.
Could you imagine the scenes in Cochin a week ago, when 80,000 people turned up to watch a game of cricket, if they were told it had been cancelled because of the heat? Playing in these conditions is unbelievably demanding but you just have to get on with it. The only sensible remedy is attempting to avoid playing at venues at the time of year when it usually gets this hot.
Strauss handled the problems created by the heat superbly and played down calls that the heat had made playing dangerous. "It was tough out there but it wasn't dangerous," said Strauss. "Guys often get cramps and we have a very good support staff in the dressing-room. There are high carbohydrate drips available and lots of energy drinks. Twenty-two players walked off the pitch at the end of the game and none of them were injured. That probably tells the story.
"Conditions like those test out the depth of your bowling attack and your batting line-up, and coming through that makes the win even more satisfying."
Strauss and Ian Bell, playing his first game of the one-day series, gave England's reply the perfect start. The pair struck the ball crisply during a 107-run opening partnership, with the fast outfield giving them full value for their shots.
India's reserve seamers could do little to prevent the flow of runs and the hosts are likely to bring back all their big guns for Saturday's final game in Indore. England are expected to do the same and play Andrew Flintoff.
It was fun whilst it lasted Mr Strauss, but I am sure you will get another go.
* The former England batsman Nick Knight has announced that he will retire from professional cricket at the end of the season.
Scoreboard from Jamshedpur
India won the toss
*V Sehwag c Solanki b Anderson 4 2mins, 5 balls, 1 four
ÝM S Dhoni c Solanki b Mahmood 96 174mins, 106 balls, 10 fours, 3 sixes
M Kaif lbw b Mahmood 15 28mins, 21 balls, 2 fours
Yuvraj Singh b Plunkett 4 16mins, 11 balls
S K Raina c Prior b Plunkett 2 14mins, 7 balls
Y Venugopal Rao c Prior b Anderson 10 13mins, 11 balls, 2 fours
R R Powar c Hoggard b Collingwood 54 120mins, 83 balls, 4 fours, 1 six
Harbhajan Singh b Pietersen 4 11 mins, 8 balls
R P Singh c Blackwell b Mahmood 7 24mins, 20 balls
V R Singh c Blackwell b Anderson 8 20mins, 13 balls, 1 four
M M Patel not out 1 7mins, 3 balls
Extras (lb 4, w 14) 18
Total (219mins, 48 overs) 223
Fall: 1-4 (Sehwag); 2-46 (Kaif); 3-58 (Yuvraj Singh); 4-63 (Raina); 5-79 (Venugopal Rao); 6-186 (Dhoni); 7-196 (Harbhajan Singh); 8-209 (Powar); 9-216 (R P Singh); 10-223 (V R Singh).
Bowling: Anderson 9-2-28-3 (w1) (5-0-22-1 3-2-4-1 1-0-2-1); Hoggard 8-0-59-0 (w4) (2-0-21-0 4-0-28-0 2-0-10-0); Mahmood 8-0-37-3 (w6) (5-0-21-1 2-0-11-1 1-0-5-1); Plunkett 5-0-22-2 (w2) (one spell); Blackwell 10-0-33-0 (8-0-26-0 2-0-7-0); Solanki 4-0-25-0; Pietersen 1-0-4-1; Collingwood 3-0-11-1 (w1) (one spell each).
Progress: Power Play 1: overs 1-10 57-2; PP2 overs 11-15 76-4; PP3 overs 16-20 90-5. 50: 39mins, 51 balls. 100: 104mins, 131 balls. 150: 145 mins, 195 balls. 200: 190mins, 247 balls. Dhoni 50: 117mins, 63 balls, 7 fours. Powar 50: 114mins, 78 balls, 4 fours, 1 six.
*A J Strauss retired hurt 74 139mins, 85 balls, 10 fours
I R Bell c Dhoni b Harbhajan Singh 46 89mins, 64 balls, 6 fours
V S Solanki b Powar 7 11mins, 9 balls, 1 four
K P Pietersen c&b Harbhajan Singh 33 63mins, 40 balls, 4 fours
P D Collingwood not out 23 65mins, 36 balls, 1 four
+M J Prior c V R Singh b Harb Singh 3 10mins, 11 balls
L E Plunkett c Sehwag b Powar 0 12 mins, 9 balls
I D Blackwell not out 14 11 mins, 12 balls, 2 fours, 1 six
Extras (lb 10, w 7, nb 10,) 27
Total (5 wkts, 204mins, 42.4 overs) 227
Fall: 1-107 (Bell); 2-120 (Solanki); 3-198 (Pietersen); 4-207 (Prior); 5-209 (Plunkett).
Did not bat: S I Mahmood, M J Hoggard, J M Anderson.
Bowling: R P Singh 8-1-48-0 (w2) (4-1-26-0 1-0-8-0 3-0-14-0); Patel 7-0-37-0 (nb6,w2) (5-0-21-0 2-0-16-0); V R Singh 5-0-33-0 (nb3) (3-0-26-0 2-0-7-0); Harbhajan Singh 10-0-30-3 (8-0-26-1 2-0-4-2); Powar 8.4-0-44-2 (nb1,w2) (7-0-31-1 1.4-0-13-1); Yuvraj Singh 4-0-25-0 (w1) (one spell).
Progress: Power Play 1: 1-10 60-0; PP2 overs 11-15 92-0. 50: 40mins, 55 balls. 100: 80 mins, 107 balls. 150: 133mins, 178 balls. Strauss retired hurt after 30 overs at 159-2. 200: 171mins, 228 balls.
Strauss 50: 80mins, 48 balls, 10 fours.
Result: England won by five wickets.
India lead series 4-1.
Umpires: K Hariharan (India) and R E Koertzen (SA). TV replay umpire: A V Jayaprakash (India).
Match referee: R S Mahanama (SL).
Man of the match: A J Strauss.Reuse content